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Words of Wisdom

James Weldon Johnson: Judge a Nation By Its Best, Not Its Worst

"Every race and every nation should be judged by the best it has been able to produce, not by the worst."

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was a leading American author, critic, journalist, poet, anthropologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, early civil rights activist, and prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He led the NAACP during the 1920s and was also one of the first African-American professors at New York University. Later in life he was a Professor of Creative Literature and Writing at Fisk University. Some of his notable accomplishments include the composition of lyrics for popular spirituals such asĀ “Tell Me, Dusky Maiden” and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”


“Every race and every nation should be judged by the best it has been able to produce, not by the worst.”

Source: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, ch. 10 [Wikiquote]


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